Let's Walk Uganda (LWU) emerged one of the top 4 winning teams out of 10 for their KuchuCare App at the recently concluded Innovation Program Pitch. The tech event took place on Saturday 27th February 2021 after 4 weeks of a design sprint.
Under the theme #InnovationForHumanRights, Innovation Program Pitch was hosted by Digital Human Rights Lab in collaboration with StartHub Africa. The entire program provided an opportunity for human rights champions to showcase innovations as well as offer recommendations on how to make human rights work in a better, safer and more efficient way in Uganda.
Some of the other winners included Safe Bangles, iRoom and Girl Power Connect.
Kuchu Times spoke to LWU's Executive Director, Eric Ndaula about the KuchuCare App and what this award means to LWU as an organization and Uganda's LGBTQ community;
Kuchu Times: How do you feel about being one of the winners of the Innovation Program Pitch?
Eric Ndaula: It is a really exciting moment for me and my team, but I feel like the wider LGBTQ community has won this one. Occupying such a space where LGBTQ persons were not as well represented and coming out on the top with a brilliant and much needed innovation, we believe it is about time access to health becomes a reality for all LGBTQ persons in Uganda.
Kuchu Times: What challenges did you experience in the process of creating the KuchuCare prototype?
Eric Ndaula: At times, we felt too overwhelmed with such a big idea. Trying to meet all the health care needs of each member of the LGBTQ community member felt like an impossibility. Given the circumstances that surround LGBTQ politics and the fact that each group within the LGBTQ spectrum has unique needs; we had to incorporate all this into a usable and inclusive application.
Financial constraints also came into play because at the time of inception, the idea had no core funding of any sort and only our passion was driving us to push the idea.
Kuchu Times: How will the KuchuCare app work?
Eric Ndaula: The KuchuCare App will provide accessible and friendly health care services specifically tailored for LGBTQ people in just one click in the palm of their hands. Among this will be the ability to find a friendly health facility near you, the ability to find deliverable safe sex consumables and emergency medication as well as the ability to talk to a friendly doctor, counsellor or peer of your choice for health information and psycho-social support. The App comes with all these features at a free cost.
Kuchu Times: How will the KuchuCare app benefit the LGBTQ community in Uganda?
Eric Ndaula: The KuchuCare App will address the unique health care needs of the LGBTQ community by circumnavigating stigma and discrimination at mainstream health care service providers. This app also addresses often under-looked issues within the LGBTQ community such as inadequate access to mental health resources and LGBTQ friendly counselors , safe sex consumables as well as LGBTQ specific health care resources.
Kuchu Times: How are you going to use the 15M cash prize?
Eric Ndaula: The Cash Prize is to fund our next steps that include, development of the first phase of the app and rolling it out in selected districts. The whole prize is dedicated to seeing that the App is a prize. But it is worth mentioning that this is a seed funding and we need more funding to see the App a success and ensure LGBTQ persons have guaranteed access to health.
Kuchu Times: What do you hope to see in the future in regards to the KuchuCare app? What do you hope to achieve?
Eric Ndaula: The KuchuCare App’s journey has only begun. The first of its kind in Uganda and East Africa as a whole; this app still has a way to go to increase access to health services for all LGBTQ Ugandans by creating a direct link between LGBTQ persons and friendly health care services. We hope to get there sooner than later. Our immediate next steps are testing and modification of the app with the LGBTQ community in urban and periurban select areas of Uganda.